Halloween is a special time. It is the one time of year when everyone gives of themselves. What they give can be anything from candy to a scare. We thought this October, we here at Mania would give you 31 Horror Films for the 31 days of October. Now, many of you will know these films. Some of you, may not. Get ready for 31 days of Horror Films that will run gauntlet from scary to campy, from horrific to down right ridiculous. Happy Halloween from Mania!
Day 13, unlucky 13, takes us on a trip that may be too dark for Halloween.
Professor Harold Monroe (Robert Kerman) journeys into the South American jungle trying to find a missing TV crew; his journey reveals the cruelty man can inflict on his brother.
The film was banned in countries across the world. Director Ruggero Deodata was taken to jail because Italian authorities believed he actually killed his actors (he did not). All that and Cannibal Holocaust was the highest grossing film in Japan, behind E.T. in 1980. It is what many people today consider a “Grindhouse Film”. A term used to describe a film that is too harsh for general audiences. “Harsh” meaning there is sex, rape, murder, violence, and uncensored animal cruelty. It is my belief that films like Cannibal Holocaust got animals protected in motion pictures. Is the film “harsh”? Yes, even by today’s standards. Cannibal and Italian Horror Films were all the rage in the late Seventies early Eighties. I believe, as the 21st Century was approaching, many people were still fascinated with these small pockets of the world where civilization was nowhere to be found. Mix that with cannibalism, the most horrific act mankind can turn to, and these films became all the rage.
The film instantly has a modern day look and feel to it because it is about a film crew, a la The Blair Witch Project, which goes missing in the jungle. We will see their footage, which is all hand held, very much the style of TV and shows like Battlestar Galactica and The Office. However, what is shown is not tamed by the passing the time. The ritualistic punishment for adultery is cruel, inhumane and still horrific. The slaughter of real animals is far from being movie magic. These things make the film shocking, but what made the film appealing was its storytelling motif.
The journey of Professor Monroe (Kerman) is one to find the truth and, hopefully, bring back the missing crew. His approach to the natives is one of bewilderment, but also one where he is willing to sacrifice himself in order to make peace with them. Perhaps it is his guides that help him to understand what is happening that makes his part of the story interesting. Plus, throughout his part of the story, there are clues to what happened to this young TV crew. The clues seem inconsequential at the time, but have a payoff later.
Upon finding the missing film cans from the TV crew, the story jumps instantly back to New York and the real horror begins to unfold. The professor learns that, for a TV crew without any guidance, the promises of fame are dangerous when they have guns and cameras in their hands. Intoxicated with power, these sensationalists are far worse than the cannibal tribes they encounter. What was not surprising was Professor Monroe’s battle with the network to not air any of the footage. They saw a story to air on TV. The professor saw a lie.
This film, though twisted, sadistic, cruel and unbridled is basically about one thing: the rape of the natural world. Ruggero Deodato gives us an uncensored look at man’s cruelty and what the promise of fame can do on the youth of today. The film is timeless in its message and, unfortunately, its cruelty is just the same. Sounds like a dark passage for Halloween.